Mindful Intervention Relieves Stress in Breast Cancer Survivors

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A brief mindfulness-based intervention has a positive effect on younger breast cancer survivors.
A brief mindfulness-based intervention has a positive effect on younger breast cancer survivors.

A brief mindfulness-based intervention has a positive short-term effect on psychological and behavioral measures as well as proinflammatory signal markers in younger breast cancer survivors, according to a study published in Cancer.

Julienne E. Bower, Ph.D., from the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues randomized women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer (≥50 years of age) who had completed cancer treatment to a six-week Mindful Awareness Practices (MAPS) intervention group (39 patients) or to a wait-list control group (32 patients). 

Questionnaires, completed before and after the intervention, assessed the primary outcomes of stress and depressive symptoms as well as physical symptoms, cancer-related distress, and positive outcomes. Genomic and circulating markers of inflammation were evaluated from blood samples.

The researchers found that the MAPS intervention led to reductions in perceived stress (P = 0.004), depressive symptoms (P = 0.094), proinflammatory gene expression (P = 0.009), and inflammatory signaling (P = 0.001).

RELATED: Mindfulness Improves Cancer-Related Quality of Life and Decreases Emotional Stress

Secondary outcomes of reduced fatigue, sleep disturbance, and vasomotor symptoms, as well as increased peace, meaning, and positive affect were seen (P < 0.05 for all).

At the three-month follow-up assessment, the intervention effects on psychological and behavioral measures were not maintained, although reductions in cancer-related distress were still observed.

"A brief, mindfulness-based intervention demonstrated preliminary short-term efficacy in reducing stress, behavioral symptoms, and proinflammatory signaling in younger breast cancer survivors," the authors write.


  1. Bower, Julienne E., PhD, et al. "Mindfulness meditation for younger breast cancer survivors: A randomized controlled trial." Cancer. DOI: 10.1002/cncr.29194. December 23, 2014.

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